CHSAA officially calls off spring sports |

CHSAA officially calls off spring sports

And just like that, it's over

From left, Battle Mountain's Naomi Harding, Elliot Pribramsky, Grace Johnson, and Lizzy Harding celebrate state title No. 3 in the 3,200-meter relay. There will be no chance to defend the title after CHSAA called off the spring-sports season on Tuesday due to COVID-19.
Daily file photo

It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it still hurt.

The Colorado High School Activities Association officially ended the spring sports season on Tuesday morning with a statement on its website,

“On Monday, Governor Polis announced a transition to ‘Safer at Home’ guidelines, which included the cancellation of in-person learning for the remainder of the school year. The decisions to cancel the spring season aligns with these new guidelines.

“We convened a meeting of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee on Monday evening. The group came to a consensus, and stated: ‘It would be impractical and irresponsible for the association to move forward with a spring season in the next weeks or even the summer months.'”

So that’s the end of baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, girls golf, girls soccer and track and field for 2020.

“I think our kids are mature enough to be aware that people are suffering,” Huskies soccer coach David Cope said. “At the same time, they’re teenagers and part of their development comes around these games and they’re taking it pretty hard.”

High school spring sports were scheduled to start contests on March 12. However, by March 10, Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency with regard to COVID-19.

On March 11, the NBA halted its season with the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Golbert testing positive for coronavirus. CHSAA officially pushed back the season, postponing the start of the season from March 12 to April 6.

As the virus moved across the state, the organization kept on pushing back the start date until Tuesday’s announcement.

“Our hats are off to the many seniors that have shown maturity and resolve as their culminating year of high school has been impacted beyond activities and athletics due to this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic,” The statement said. “The Class of 2020 will not be forgotten.”

Track and field

Eagle County figured to have a memorable spring season on tap. The Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Vail Christian track and field teams seemed to be the headliners.

Phillip Petersen and Eagle Valley lacrosse seemed poised for a big spring before CHSAA official pulled the plug on the sports year on Tuesday due to COVID-19.
Barry Eckhaus | Daily file photo

The Huskies ladies had won the Western Slope five years running, while the Saints boys were hoping to defend their 2A league crown from last spring. Eagle Valley, meanwhile, had Joslin and Samantha Blair returning.

All three schools had state ambitions. Battle Mountain’s girls were the three-time defending state champions in the 3,200-meter relay, and a fourth would have been difficult, but certainly not out of the question. With the Huskies’ traditional strength in longer distances like the 800, the 1,600 and the 3,200, Battle Mountain girls, who finished second at state last spring, figured to be in the hunt again at Jeffco Stadium.

And, oh, by the way, the Battle Mountain boys, perpetually overshadowed by their female counterparts, seemed ready to make some noise. Of note, Nico Piliero (4 minutes, 29 seconds) seemed on the verge of shattering John O’Neill’s cherished record in the 1,600 of 4:24 seconds (2008).

Down valley track fans and everybody else, in general, were getting ready for the Blairs. Joslin, a senior, and the most decorated female runner in Eagle Valley history, was gearing up to put an exclamation point on her career before matriculating at Vanderbilt.

She finishes her high school career with eight state track and field medals, including gold in the mile in 2018, as well as four top 15 finishes in the state cross-country meet, and the school records in the 3,200 relay, the 1,600 and the open 3,200, just a few highlights of her resume.

“I feel I had a bird’s eye view of this. I saw it coming and it still doesn’t make it any easier,” said Eagle Valley track and field coach Jeff Shroll, who is also the Eagle County Manager. “It’s super disappointing. I almost have no words to describe it. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love being around the kids.”

Samantha Blair, a sophomore, was also ready to go. Joslin’s younger sister was nipping at big sis’ heels. Younger Blair already took Joslin’s records in the 5K in cross-country in the fall and the 800 meters in the spring. All Samantha did was medal in all four events she entered last spring at state (800, 1,600, 4-by-8 and the 300 hurdles).

And don’t forget senior vaulter Holden Daniels. Shroll had big-time expectations for him this spring.

While the Devils and Huskies were ready in the long-distance events, Vail Christian seemed to have a bevy of sprinters ready to go at 2A. The boys won the 800 relay last spring and the girls’ 800 seemed poised for glory. After finishing fourth last season, Lolo Wilson, Kendelle Smith, Mariana Engleby and Kiana Brasch were all returning.

Soccer, lax and baseball

Battle Mountain girls soccer was the two-time defending 4A Western Slope champion. While the Huskies lost a lot to graduation, the mantra in Edwards has been reloading, not rebuilding.

There will be no matches this spring at Bandoni Alumni Field.
Chris Dillmann | Daily file photo

Along those lines, Vail Mountain soccer traditionally starts slowly, ends up with a bad seed in the 3A playoffs and then “upsets” some teams come the postseason. The Gore Rangers made the 3A quarterfinals the last two seasons.

Meanwhile, Vail Christian had high hopes. The Saints went 6-5 last season and finished 15th the 2A rating-percentage index. That’s just three spots out of a playoff spot. For a program that’s had some rough patches, a postseason berth would have been a monumental triumph.

Eagle Valley lacrosse seemed to have a breakthrough season last spring and was ready to challenge archrival, Battle Mountain, for county and Western Conference supremacy. Everything Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley is a big game, but it is so rare when both schools are actually going head-to-head for playoffs spots, as was likely the case this season.

Just as disappointing was the fact that several teams at schools had new coaches and never got to play: Eagle Valley girls’ lacrosse (Todd Beckum), Battle Mountain baseball (Harrison Stevens), and Vail Mountain boys lacrosse (Anders Fogel), just to name a few.

“We probably had 15 open gyms in January and February,” Beckum said. “We had a good turnout. We were all psyched.”

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